Links of the Week: November 28, 2011

I see here a fair number of regular sites, lots of links, and lots of topics.

Also, a handful of sites I haven’t previously linked, and a few YouTube videos I didn’t feel the need to post immediately but felt worth mentioning.

Topic: Pathfinder MMO

Big new this week, and I’m reasonably confident that anyone reading this is already aware of the Pathfinder MMO announcement.

I don’t play MMOs and they hold little interest for me.  Since I lack the knowledge needed to have an informed opinion, I don’t have one.

No links provided this time, but you can’t read RPG blogs right now without seeing someone talking about how (great|bad) this is.

The Armchair General

DM Advice — Crystal Slotted Weapons

(http://armchairgeneral1.blogspot.com/2011/11/dm-advice-crystal-slotted-weapons.html)

Variable effect, Earthdawn-style magic weapons.

Between are the Doors

War Donkey and Cannon

(http://fictivefantasies.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/the-war-donkey-and-cannon/)

From the post:

Timothy the Tulip is a gladiator character in my Old School Hack game. His player wants to get into the gonzo spirit of the game, so he decided since he’s a buff pile of rippling muscle, he wants to carry a cannon. (Plus, he’ll be at sea soon, in the process of hunting…well, a dragon.)

Continue.  You have my attention.

And after reading fictivite’s description and how he would apply it in-game, I approve.

In Echelon?  Probably around the Heroic tier (level 5-8 in D&D-land).  A little beyond what is really possible in our world, but not insanely so, and it basically amounts to “pretty good attack with some complications and a fair bit of awesome sprinkled on it”.

Cannon + Magic = Win!

(http://fictivefantasies.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/cannon-magic-win/)

How do you make a really cool idea cooler?  In most fantasy games, you add magic.

One thing I especially like about the possibilities described here is that there are no ‘enhancement bonuses’, all the effects are actually varied and interesting.

Big Ball of No Fun

How to Plot a Novel/Campaign in 5 Steps

(http://bigballofnofun.blogspot.com/2011/11/how-to-plot-novelcampaign-in-5-steps.html)

With the exception that I don’t actually plot scenarios, this comes close to how I prepare things in my campaign.  This post is specifically applying a post from Rachel Aaron’s blog, “How I Plot a Novel in 5 Steps“.

The steps are listed below, you’ll need to read Callin’s and Rachel’s articles for the explanatory text.

  • Step 0: Decide what to write
  • Step 1: Get Down What You Already Know
  • Step 2: Lay Down The Basics
  • Step 3: Filling in the Holes
  • Step 4: Building a Firm Foundation [this was missed in Callin’s post]
  • Step 5: Start Writing!

I haven’t read Rachel Aaron’s books yet, but they are queued on my ebook reader.  Right now I’m on Turn Coat (Dresden Files #11) and that’s got higher priority.

The Black Campbell

Setting the Scene: Getting Guns Right

(http://blackcampbell.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/setting-the-scene-getting-guns-right/)

I’m not as twitchy about guns ‘being wrong’, if only because I tend to stick to fantasy games, but Black Campbell is right in that getting the small details right adds verisimilitude to a setting or scenario, and getting them wrong annoys people in the know no end.

Emergence Campaign Weblog

Fantastic Coinage II: Varisinian Cursed Bloodcoins, Wraith Stelae, Shan Herb Pockets, and Caradan Sacred Cross Tokens

(http://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/fantastic-coinage-ii-varisinian-cursed-bloodcoins-wraith-stelae-shan-herb-packets-and-caradan-sacred-cross-tokens/)

Wickedly long post title, some really interesting monetary units.  As with the previous article, some utility in improving the weight to value ratio, but more importantly they do more than that.

Fantastic Coinage III — Ervoli Feather Bands and Tenebrous Obals

(http://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/fantastic-coinage-iii-ervoli-feather-bands-and-tenebrous-obals/)

More monetary units, once a matter of pure craftsmanship with the and the other from the land of the dead and decay.

Exchange of Realities

A Resonance of Place

(http://www.exchangeofrealities.com/2011/11/21/a-resonance-of-place/)

Not quite an article about ‘fantastic places’, but I think I’ll still want to mention it as a sample article for the carnival coming in January.  Ravyn describes elements important to making a place significant in the minds of players and readers.

Points of Resonance

(http://www.exchangeofrealities.com/2011/11/22/points-of-resonance/)

Ravyn continues this series.  How you describe something has a large impact on how it is perceived and remembered.

Fame & Fortune

damned city: the avernine

(http://satyrelite.blogspot.com/2011/11/damned-city-avernine.html)

I don’t think I’ve had anything from this blog in my Links of the Week, but this article and a quick look over his archive suggests that I’ll want to take a closer look.  I expect I’ll include this post as an example of a fantastic location (a relatively gritty and low-level one, but those can be fantastic too) when the RPG Blog Carnival stops by in January.

Geek Ken

Expeditions of Amazing Adventure: the Floating City of Phomparr

(http://geekken.blogspot.com/2011/11/expeditions-of-amazing-adventure.html)

An example of another not-quite-fantastic but still unusual and interesting location.

Geek Life Project

Engineering Dungeons from Troll Lord Games

(http://www.grogtard.com/engineering-dungeons-from-troll-lord-games/)

A review and links to Engineering Dungeons, a system-neutral book for generating random dungeons (complete with some backstory and the like), published by Troll Lord Games.  Looks like a useful book.

Glimm’s Workshop

Core Mechanics: Health and Damage

(http://glimmsworkshop.com/2011/11/21/core-mechanics-health-and-damage/)

Glimm considers different means of handling damage done in RPGs.  I want to take a closer look and follow up on this (so if you read this bit I forgot; someone remind me) because it will have some bearing on Echelon.

GMS Magazine

Why RPGs aren’t mainstream anymore

(http://www.gmsmagazine.com/articles/why-rpgs-arent-mainstream-anymore)

Paco gives some thoughts on what causes the RPG industry to suffer downturns.

Hari Ragat Games

Spellbinding: Low-Fantasy Magic System

(http://hariragat.blogspot.com/2011/04/spellbinding-low-fantasy-magic-system.html)

Spellbinding, Take Two

(http://hariragat.blogspot.com/2011/11/in-previous-post-i-talked-about.html)

A couple of posts on a more classical (i.e. not-so-sciency, like D&D) magic system based on fetishes and other foci.

I’d Rather Be Killing Monsters

Supernatural in a Hazzard Style…

(http://www.heropress.net/2011/11/supernatural-in-hazzard-style.html)

I have never felt the urge to watch Supernatural… until seeing this mashup trailer Timothy brought to my attention.

Now… I feel an urge to check this series out, even if I have no real reason to believe it’s actually going to be just like this trailer.

But if it is?  Well then.

Resurrecting The Dead In Tekralh…

(http://www.heropress.net/2011/11/resurrecting-dead-in-tekralh.html)

In some fantasy RPGs and fictional settings (such as Steven Brust’s Dragaera — which I find to be an excellent read) death and the cost for revivification may be seen as little more than an occupational hazard and operational expense.

Timothy provides alternate rules that make revivification less common and more expensive, hazardous, and difficult.

Honestly, looking at the way the character might come back ‘not quite right’ I think I might prefer to not come back at all.

Which, for some settings, seems entirely appropriate.

Knightvision Games

[Maps] Map of Heirandos using Autorealm

(http://knightvisiongames.com/archives/627)

kvgames has been using AutoREALM for some time now for his campaign maps.  This interests me, I was at one point active as an advisor on that project and still am an administrator at SourceForge and the Yahoo group.

I’ve always liked how the overland maps looked, I think because of the fractalization algorithm Andy used when he wrote it.  I used to get the best looking coastlines and the like.

Lawful Indifferent

Skeleton Punching Orcs

(http://lawfulindifferent.blogspot.com/2011/11/skeleton-punching-orcs.html)

‘Skeleton punching’ here has less to do with the orcs’ hobby than it does the setting/system N. Wright is working on.

I think this a good article on the nature of orcs, and how they can be considered less ‘evil’ than ‘culturally different’.  I’ve used similar reasoning in my campaigns, where races that might otherwise be considered ‘evil’ might be more accurately described as ‘dangerous and bear watching’.  They might still ‘detect’ as evil by D&D definitions, but most human cultures they would deal with probably would as well, so it’s a bit of a dodgy metric.

Land of Nod

Hell South — Preview 3

(http://matt-landofnod.blogspot.com/2011/11/hell-south-preview-3.html)

A few more places from Matt’s Hell hexcrawl.  I’d say it looks good, but, well, it’s in Hell….

Hell South — Preview 4

(http://matt-landofnod.blogspot.com/2011/11/hell-south-preview-4.html)

There’s certainly a bad place to be a halfling or dwarf.  The Notac-ichat might not want much from them, really, but I’m guessing the Notac-ichat would be someone insistent and perhaps not terribly discriminatory.

Online Dungeon Master

OnlineDM Mailbag #1: Simple IF statements in Maptool

(http://onlinedm.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/onlinedm-mailbag-1-simple-if-statements-in-maptool/)

OnlineDM continues his MapTool macro programming tutorials.

Roleplay-Geek

Coinage, Nationhood and the defacto Gold Standard

(http://roleplay-geek.blogspot.com/2011/11/coinage-nationhood-and-defacto-gold.html)

Many RPGs simplify and abstract coinage.  I sometimes think this is a shame, while understanding entirely why it is more practical to do it this way (and I’m a pragmatist at heart).

Tony describes some of the complications (based on real world history) this strategy removes from consideration in play.

Roving Band of Misfits

How to Make Poisons More Dynamic

(http://www.rovingbandofmisfits.com/2011/11/how-to-make-poisons-more-dynamic/)

Benoit describes how to change poisons in D&D 4e (in some cases, at least) to a more interesting and game-useful effect by modeling certain poisons on diseases rather than damage and effect.

This is one of the things I quite like about Pathfinder, they use a similar approach (and in fact diseases and poisons are both handled with the same general mechanism, as are curses and a few other things).  I’m happy to see it proposed here.

… and the sky full of dust

An alternative method for character advancement

(http://www.theskyfullofdust.co.uk/?p=1551)

skyfullofdust describes a method of tracking character advancement based on achievement rather than collecting experience points.  It sounds somewhat like how I do it, as described in my Learning from Experience post from a  few months ago.

Skyland Games

D&D Fonts — Old School Look, New Text

(http://skylandgames.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/dd-fonts-old-school-look-new-text/)

Skyland provides links to several font resources — to specific fonts, really, but there are others at each site linked to.  Handy stuff.

Spirits of Eden

Worldbuilding Diary: Layers

(http://spiritsofeden.com/2011/11/21/worldbuilding-diary-layers/)

Dennis is back with another Worldbuilder Diary post, discussing levels and layers of detail.  Campaign setting design (and characters, and many other things) can be considered somewhat fractal in nature.  Sometimes the mere shape is sufficient, sometimes you need deeper detail (or just want to know more).  Why not write that way?

Fantastic Locations: Zuri Makavana’s Potion Shop

(http://spiritsofeden.com/2011/11/24/fantastic-locations-zuri-makavanas-potion-shop/)

It seems my carnival topic is shaping up to be a popular choice — I’ve seen a lot of posts lately to use as examples in January.

Stuffer Shack

Mass Effect: Encounter Design Principles

(http://stuffershack.com/mass-effect-encounter-design-principles/)

Another article I want to take a closer look at, especially since it seems to relate to the post at Glimm’s Workshop above.

The Tao of D&D

Rifling

(http://tao-dnd.blogspot.com/2011/11/im-afraid-this-post-isnt-going-to-be.html)

Another post about misconceptions regarding firearms (namely, how utterly inaccurate and hard they could be to apply) and some of the consequences of that when it comes to the nature of the men using them — and other weapons, come to that.

Unofficial Games

Slay the monster or Keep the magic sword?

(http://zzarchov.blogspot.com/2011/11/slay-monster-or-keep-magic-sword.html)

I’ve read any number of stories where a magic weapon was crafted specifically to destroy a particular creature, and some where there existence of the creature caused the creation of its counter (such as the calling of a greater outsider also creating or bringing the item that can destroy it).  This is the first time I saw it turned the other way, where the creation of a magic item leads to the spawning of the creature whose destruction will unmake the magic in the item.

An interesting idea, and one that (as the comments on the post suggest) can be expanded on to lead to consequences to other major magical acts.

YouTube

DragonCon 2011 Deadpool Dance Party

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_jMOubq0-A)

This is so dumb and so wrong that it is totally appropriate for the character they are cosplaying.

Zombie Toast

What do you do when you have too much time, money and fireworks?

(http://z-toast.blogspot.com/2011/11/what-do-you-do-when-you-have-too-much.html)

Likely the last link in today’s list (by the simple fact that ‘Zombie Toast’ is the last site alphabetically, even after YouTube) and not particularly RPG-related (though I suppose you could pretend they are rocket propelled grenades), but this looks like wicked fun.

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